One of my hobbies outside of video games, and especially as a child, was reading. Throughout school, I spent most of my time just reading anything I could find and I loved myself a good fiction story. Books became an integral part of my life and even now I still love picking up a good novel or manga and just losing myself in those worlds. Of course, before everything in gaming was voice acted, everything had to be read. Naturally, I gravitated towards games which were rich in story and dialogue such as Final Fantasy or The Legend of Zelda.
Though I loved fiction, there was one time I walked by the magazine aisle at our local supermarket when a particular magazine caught my eye: Nintendo Power. It never occurred to me at such a young age that there were magazines about the company. I was still lost in the idea that games were only for “losers” and didn’t know how much of an impact gaming had in the 80’s. I picked up the magazine with my greedy and grubby little hands and begged my parents to buy it for me like any other young and impressionable kid would do, and of course, they let me buy it.
I read through that entire magazine so many times and took it with me everywhere. You’d easily be able to find me burying my nose in that magazine, poring through every little detail, reading the letters sent to the magazine and their responses, and everything in between. I’d often daydream about writing a letter and having it sent to Nintendo Power and hoping they’d respond and publish my letter.
One time while I was reading Nintendo Power, and it had all the information about the newly announced Majora’s Mask. Ocarina of Time was my favorite Zelda game at the time so naturally, I was gathering information. I brought the magazine on the bus, picked a seat close to the driver like always so maybe I’d get picked on less, and started to look over all of it. I remember thinking it strange and weird that Link would put on masks and change forms. The idea of him transforming was unfathomable to me and I was so sure it was another joke.
A few minutes on the bus ride, however, something strange happened.
“Hey, is that a new Zelda game?”
Someone was talking to me and they were specifically talking about Zelda. I looked over and tried to learn their intentions. They couldn’t be trying to talk to me normally, could they? But they were, and I showed him the magazine happily and we talked about all sorts of Zelda-related things and our thoughts and ideas as to what would be in Majora’s Mask. It was one of the earliest times I had talked to anybody about my hobby, even earlier than the Water Temple story — and it was all thanks to a magazine.
There are a few other memories relating to magazines, such as the one time I was looking at early screenshots for Wind Waker and mistakenly thought the Moblin’s red tuft on his spear was blood and I thought Wind Waker was going to be a super mature game. Then there was the time I was digging through our old stuff my mom had found in storage, and I learned that she and my older sister read and collected Nintendo Power back in the day as well. As fate would have it, that same issue was about Zelda II, our favorite game to play together.
Older magazines are, in a way, a look into the past. A way to see the lifestyles and happenings of times now gone. But they’re also a source of memories for many of us to reflect on. A lot of those who grew up with magazines like Nintendo Power or Tips and Tricks look back fondly because they understood our hobby just as well as we do, and in a way it can help us to feel like we’re not alone in this world, or give us an outlet to just be our truest selves, even if it’s through printed paper. It’s thanks in large part to these magazines that I learned all that I did, and especially because of my love of Zelda that I could connect with people in ways I never knew I would.